An Accra High Court presided over by Her Ladyship Justice Afia Serwah Asare Botwe, has sentenced one Elizabeth Caldwell, who’s popularly known as Pat Agboletey or Vida Pat Agboletey, on financial charges levelled against her.
On the count of conspiracy to defraud by false pretence, the Court has sentenced the Accused to a term of 12 months imprisonment, in addition to a fine of GHC 4,800.00 or in default 36 months imprisonment in hard labour.
On the count of Money laundering, the Accused has been sentenced to a term of 18 months imprisonment and a fine of GHC 12,000.00, or in default a further 48 months imprisonment with hard Labour.
According to the Judge, the sentences are to run concurrently.
The facts of the case presented at the commencement of the trial are that the Complainant, Catherine Avis Judd, was at the time a flight attendant with US Airways.
In March, 2012, the Complainant, met the Second Accused in this case, David Wingate alias Chigozie Awom and alias Obinna, who is on the run, on an online dating website and he introduced himself to the Complainant as David Wingate, an American Engineer who had been travelling to Ghana periodically on building projects. The Complainant communicated with the 2nd Accused with the assumed name, David Wingate, via internet, telephone calls and text messages, however, they never met in person.
After establishing the online relationship, the 2nd Accused told the Complainant that he was being transferred to Ghana for a project to construct a bridge.
The 2nd Accused also mentioned the name Alfred Quarcoo, who was to be his translator for the local language in Ghana.
The 2nd Accused, acting with the first Accused at all material times, used her bank account at Fidelity Bank to receive $20,000 from the Complainant. The 1st Accused also used a fraudulent postal address to receive various items from the Complainant.
During the investigation, the first Accused, Elizabeth Caldwell, made a voluntary confession that it was the second Accused, who asked her to use her bank account to receive the funds.
When the 2nd Accused claimed to have moved to Ghana, he began asking the Complainant for money and some items, because until he completed his purported project, he would have no money to cover his living expenses.
The 2nd Accused deceived the Complainant that the 1st Accused was the wife of his translator, Alfred Quarcoo, and that, the Complainant should send the money into her bank account, so that he could receive same.
The 1st Accused agreed with the fabrication and used her account to receive the funds. Investigations revealed that it was the 2nd Accused who advised the 1st Accused to use the name Elizabeth Caldwell, to defraud the Complainant.
It was further revealed that the 1st Accused is not legally known in Ghana as Elizabeth Caldwell, and that the 2nd Accused made her register with the National Health Insurance Scheme(NHIS) as such and the 1st Accused subsequently used her NHIS card to open an account at Fidelity.
During investigation, when the first Accused was asked to produce her certificates of education, birth certificate and other official documents for verification, she refused to do so.
The 2nd Accused promised the Complainant that he would repay all the money once he had completed the purported project in Ghana, for which he expected about $800,000.
Investigation revealed that from March, 2012, to October, 2013, the remitter sent various money transfers and merchandise, including a dell laptop, four mobile phones, eight Apple iPads, and a hand held video game system. These packages were sent to P. O. BOX JT1, Accra, in favour of both Accused persons.
The most significant and sizeable transaction occurred on 8th July, 2013 when the Complainant wired $20,000 from her US Bank account to the account of the 1st Accused at Fidelity Bank, Accra.
The 1st Accused was arrested and detained for two days and was granted police enquiry bail. Investigation later led to the arrest of the 2nd Accused, who was also granted police bail.
The 2nd Accused however, jumped bail and the bond was estreated upon the surety before the actual hearing could eventually commence.
The Economic and Organised Crime Office has been directed by the Court to transmit the sum of $20,000 in the 1st Accused’s frozen with the Fidelity Bank in the name of Elizabeth Caldwell, to the Complainant within 14 days.